Updated: Jan 12
Last month we took a massive step in honoring Kaydee Koch and her foundation by granting our first Bucket List Dream to a brave young man battling cancer.
If you follow us on social media (primarily Instagram and Facebook right now) then you may have seen the post we did about Daniel and his bucket list dream, which we granted on July 18th, Kaydee’s 21st birthday and her first heavenly birthday. Given Daniel’s deteriorating health, we needed to turn his dream into reality quickly so, despite our relative inexperience with non-profit wish fulfillment, we dove in head-first with a level of excitement and passion that surely made Kaydee proud. With a lot of hustle, heart, donations and volunteer hours, we were able to fulfill Daniel’s dream the following week.
We anticipated difficulty in choosing the first Project Sol Flower dream recipient because every candidate is worthy and deserves the kind of joy that this organization hopes to spread. And, while it certainly wasn’t easy for us to select the first beneficiary, we felt Kaydee’s presence and guidance every step of the way.
When we learned that Daniel was battling the same form of cancer as Kylie Schwartz, who helped inspire Project Sol Flower, and that the two families share Hispanic heritage, we felt Kaydee tapping on our shoulders. That, combined with the beauty of his biggest bucket list dream sealed the deal. Daniel’s dream was so profound in its simplicity – a mountain escape with his family so they could spend time together.
Daniel’s oxygen requirements prevented us from looking at mountain retreats in the high country but we found the perfect spot for his family, including his mom, twin brother, two older sisters and their partners, in Longmont, Co. War Horse Ranch & Saloon is a stunning modern farmhouse with upscale amenities and incredible views. It feels remote, as any good ranch should, but is only minutes from Lyons, Boulder and Longmont making it the ideal setting for Daniel and his family.
After reserving the ranch and coordinating flight arrangements for Daniel’s older sister and her partner who live in Texas, we began securing donations, making gift baskets, stocking the refrigerator and setting up the ranch for a week of connection, love, laughter and memories. We hired a professional photographer to take family photos and we sent a cleaning crew to their home while they were relaxing at the ranch. We wanted to create a 5-star experience for the entire family and ensure their only “to-do” item for the week was to spend time loving each other and creating memories with Daniel.
As commonly happens with terminally ill patients, especially kids and young adults, Daniel experienced a huge boost in energy and alertness when given the chance to gather with loved ones in a new environment, away from the hospital. We were told that he was actively engaged with his family throughout the week, enjoying meals together, playing games, laughing and relaxing on the front porch.
We once again felt Kaydee’s divine intervention when we learned that Daniel’s family wanted to meet the Koch’s, a meeting that was as beautiful as it was heart-wrenching. This experience was unique and felt right given the circumstances. With this meeting, the Koch’s realized that Kaydee always had a bigger vision for her life than merely her time here on Earth.
Above all else Kaydee cherished family, friends and true connection. She seemed to always know that you’re given two families: the one you are born into and the one you cultivate along the way, continually weaving the two together to form a rich tapestry of love that can help you weather life’s storms. The meeting of these two families illustrates the beauty and magic that can be born out of the darkest moments.
We are touched to have been a part of Daniel’s journey and he and his family are forever a part of ours. We are grateful to everyone who donated, volunteered, cheered us on or supported us as we raced to make this dream a reality for him. Sadly, Daniel passed two weeks later and while nothing can ease pain and sorrow that deep, we hope, in time, that the memories and photos from their week at War Horse Ranch & Saloon provide some comfort for the family and many cherished memories.
We’d like to thank The Denver Hospice for donating the airline flights, Sandy Young for all of the amazing Broncos swag, Carina Berumen for her cleaning services, Lizz Vargas for providing authentic Mexican cuisine, Stacey Winslow with “Kylie’s Krew” for gift baskets for the family and pup, Flouwer Co for the artisanal crackers and Sugar Mill Photography for the beautiful family portraits.